My son is 11. He's always been pretty sensitive, and this past year has been even worse, especially lately.
For example: He plays baseball and he's really good at it. He usually has a very positive attitude about the game and about his own abilities, but lately he is really down on himself when he doesn't have a perfect game. He went through a hitting slump and was really frustrated. We have tried explaining that even major league players only get a hit every 3 or 4 times at bat, but that doesn't help. But he's mostly frustrated about his pitching. He's an okay pitcher and in previous years, he's been one of the best on the team. But this year he moved up an age group and now there are several other pitchers on the team better than him, so obviously those 3 or 4 kids get to start every game. The coach lets DS pitch at practices and he obviously needs a little work to be competitive at this age level. After practice, he kept saying, "I suck! I'll never be able to start a game!" etc.
I tried to explain to him that he's a heck of a 1st baseman so the coach plays him to his strengths. And just because there are other kids that pitch better than him, doesn't mean he sucks, but of course the coach is going to put in the best pitchers. But that he's still a really big asset to the team, he gets to start every single game at his primary position (1st) and he comes through with the bat most of the time and that he should focus on the positive, and we'll get him some more pitching lessons and that will develop in time. I also point out that the fact he's a younger kid on the team but he still gets to start in the infield every game. There's not a lot of kids who can say that!
So we went around and around with him being self-deprecating and me pointing out his strong areas until I was just tired of it and let it drop.
Later, he was back to his happy-go-lucky self and came to me and said, "I hate these mood swings. What can I do?"
He's read books and had a class in puberty so he knows what he's going through. I just wonder what I can do "in the moment" to help him through it. He just gets so upset and impossible to reason with and it's hard to watch and hard to listen to. I think it's less about a doubt in his abilities and more about just plain and simple mood swings. What can I do??
My DD 10 gets down on herself at times, too. I think it's just part of the adjustment to puberty, you feel like you're gross or weird somehow so you just want to be good at something to cover it up. My DD 13 is almost through the crazy mood swings, but she still goes from laughing hysterically to crying in the same minute. Hormones are hard to deal with at that age, but supporting their self esteem is the best thing you can do. Make sure you commend them for the positives and don't make such a big deal of the negatives. They need as much support as they can get at this age. Is it possible to get him on a different team with kids his own age so he's not judging himself against such a high standard? Both myself and my older daughter were given the option to skip a grade, but my mother nor we agreed that was a good idea because kids are naturally a little competitive and will suffer if they don't meet up to the standards they set for themselves. My DD 10 just got her standardized tests results and is beating herself up over not getting commended in one of the three areas she was tested on because her older sister always did so well. Children are the harshest critics sometimes.
(gender)queer vegetarian artist co-parenting DDs 14 & 11 with DP and TTC little peanut #3
Thanks for your reply. The team is 11-12 yo so he's really not playing with kids that much older. In official Little League, he can't play in a group out of his age range. And actually, he's a better overall player than even most of the 12 yo's on the team because he's been in travel ball and had private coaching etc. There's about 3 kids who pitch better than him and they all happen to be 12, but you can't be best at everything and it's certainly not worth playing with younger kids so you can be best. I just used that as an example but he may get all worked up over any little thing and I'd just like a strategy to get him through it as it happens. I actually think I should just leave him alone until he gets over it which he inevitably does eventually. DH wants to talk him through every second, but in my own teenage experience, I would rather have been left alone whilst wallowing in my own self pity, lol.
For my sons, recognizing that the mood swings were hormonal, and that thye would (most likely) grow out of the phase helped a LOT. I remember one of my sons crying "I hate puberty!"
One of my sons suffers from depression, so we have dealt with a lot of negative feelings. One thing that helps him is to be reminded that the emotional part f his brain is making him feel like a failure, or whatever, but if he can look at it with the logical part of his brain, he can see things differently. We can't really control our emotions, but we can control how we react to them.
In your son's case, if he complains that he'll never start a game, ask him if that would be the end of the world. Will he quit playing baseball if he can't be a starting pitcher? If that is his goal, maybe he needs to put in some more practice time to develop his skills.
I think the best thing I did for my sons at that age was to listen, empathize, and offer hugs.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.
I'm with you on this. My hunch is that your dh is motivated as much by wanting to 'make it stop' as by wanting to help his son through it. Which is fine and understandable. But not entirely realistic.
My dd is 16 y.o. and my ds is 11 y.o. One thing that they can stomach in the heat of the moment, or as it happens as you said, is saying, "I can see you're really upset/disappointed/feeling down right now. I know you don't believe me now, but let me just say you're not being fair to yourself, and you did a good job out there on the field." And then just leave it at that. Listen as they rant, nod your head occasionally. Later, when they're no longer in the moment, they will on some level appreciate the support you gave them.